An artist’s impression showing how the third runway, on the left, would look ©your.heathrow.com
An artist’s impression showing how the third runway, on the left, would look ©your.heathrow.com

Suppliers and procurement work on 'sprint start' for Heathrow expansion

23 September 2016

Encouraging suppliers to buy into “Heathrow as a way forward” keeps them engaged and primed while waiting for a decision on the third runway, the airport’s head of procurement has said.

“We get the supply chain on board and they become part of the team to get this over the line. And as a result of this being successful, it then unlocks their contracts for their real work to begin.” said Ian Ballentine.

He said his message to suppliers was: “You can either sit on the fence and wait for it… or you can work with us as a collaborative partner and help us achieve it.”

The government is expected to make the long delayed decision on airport expansion this autumn. 

Ballentine, who is speaking at this year’s CIPS Annual Conference, said he achieves buy-in by involving suppliers early on in the “optioneering” process. Suppliers “bring skills we don’t have today that help demonstrate why Heathrow is the right option going forward”, he said.

His procurement team, who are responsible for creating the project estimates, have received advice from a range partners helping them improve the project’s cost certainty, risk profiling, design strategies and scheduling among other things. Currently the project has a cost of £14-£18bn.

“That’s the sort of things that we’re getting from these players, and that helps us get the confidence that our plans have a level of robust thinking behind them,” said Ballentine.

Until Heathrow’s third runway has government approval, something not guaranteed, any spend Ballentine makes on the project is a risk to the organisation.

“But what we don’t want to do is just sit waiting for government decision, they say go and then they want it done really quickly and we’re behind the curve,” he said.

“We’re ready, we’re just waiting for the government’s decision. We’ve set up the client contracts, the design contracts, our architect contracts, our insurance. So we’ve got in place all of the things that means we can have a sprint start.”

A third runway at Heathrow is one of several options to expand airport capacity the government is currently considering. Last year an independent report from the Airports Commission, lead by Sir Howard Davies, said expanding Heathrow would deliver the greatest benefits to the UK.

The new chancellor Philip Hammond has indicated the government would make a decision this autumn, but has not set a date.

Ian Ballentine will be one of the speakers at this year’s CIPS Annual Conference 2016. Find out more and book your tickets here

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